Black Friendship, Broadcasted – The New York Times

Every two weeks, Sylvia Obel and Dani Scott meet on the opposite coast to record zoom. Their podcast“Okay, now listen,” which is produced by Netflix.

They deal with topics ranging from breakups to parental abandonment to favorite TV shows, heartbreak and sisters in an upbeat, gruff manner. In one episode, the hosts read from magazines they had hired as preteens.

But their most candid and honest conversation is about life as young black women pursue their dreams in white, male-dominated industries. (Ms. Obel, 31, A Entertainment reporter Who previously worked at BuzzFeed, and 30-year-old Ms. Scott are a radio host, professionally known as Scotty Beam, who made her debut on Hot 97 in New York.)

Often those conversations extend to their guests. In a February episode with the actress ZendayaThe hosts discussed the importance of Black women crediting themselves and celebrating their successes, a task that does not necessarily come naturally to Black women. “I struggle a bit with it because I’m one of those people that if I give myself credit, it’s going to happen,” Zendaya said.

The hosts also face disappointments. Black women face off daily – for example, when Ms. Obel and Ms. Scott break up Solange’s song “Mad” from their 2016 album, “A Seat at the Table”.

Ms. Owell said of the song, “She tropes the angry black woman and pounces on her head.” “She has been so mad, how can you find out about what you are doing to make her angry – what society has done to make her angry.”

In another episode, Ms. Scott said: “To reduce the joy and enjoyment that you never tried to lose can end it.”

Their friendship is preceded by a podcast, which may explain why their summer falls short. The two met at Essence Fest in 2017 and immediately hit it off.

“I wanted ‘OK, now listen’ to be a direct reflection of our friendship,” Ms. Scott said in an interview. “I wanted to demonstrate black relationship, black friendship, somehow.” For many listeners, the podcast, which premiered in 2020, has become a way to feel closer to one’s own friends during the epidemic.

“My girls are the love of my life,” Ms. Obel said brightly, the way friendship dictates the podcast.

“I have a group of women who keep me pressed,” Ms. Scott said. “My aunt team is impeccable.”

It was a member of Jasmine Lawson, Ms. Owell’s tribe, who asked the pair to start “OK, now listen” for Netflix. A 29-year-old Ms. Lawson, a television executive at Netflix, was on the team that the Strong Black lead debuted in 2018, a content for Black subscribers. One of her responsibilities was creating the types of shows and podcasts that she herself wanted to see and hear.

“They were really supportive of the work that I was doing and wanted me to just go, go, go and do more,” Ms. Lawson said in a recent interview with her bosses on Netflix.

In addition to producing “OK, Now Listen”, Ms. Lawson also produced “Strong Black Legends”, where the podcast celebrated and honored black actors including Sisley Tyson, Alice Neil and Blair Underwood and discussed their careers .

“It just came from our selfishness of wanting to honor our legends in our community,” Ms. Lawson said. “I know that most of our aunts and uncles cannot be on the internet every day to see how we talk about these actors. I wanted to make sure that we have this collection of their stories, how they came into the industry. “

Among the “OK, Now Listen” hosts, Ms. Lawson said: “I really wanted the great cultural conversation about what is happening in the realm of millennial blacks.”

In 2015, an estimated two million Black households had subscribed to Netflix – a number that represented only 5 percent of its total subscribers. These figures came from the 2015 memo, Which was obtained by the New York Times, Which was designed by Black employees at the company to make a case to Netflix executives that they were missing an opportunity with Black audiences.

The memorandum also stated that Black families represented the $ 1.4 billion market. Netflix executives, perhaps hesitant to lose such revenue, launched the Strong Black lead in 2018. The company also continued to improve its hiring of women of color and women in many different positions – including directors, screenwriters and producers – a recent study by University of Southern California Annaberg Inclusion Initiative Which was commissioned by Netflix.

Today, the media company has established a reputation as being a pre-eminent place for Black talent to move to Hollywood to produce their work.

Ms. Lawson recently landed a new role as manager of the original series at Netflix, a position in which she develops and produces a live-action comedy series. But she has not postponed her goal of creating content that she would like to see in person. (Netflix will not share viewership or audience demographics for this article.)

“I see myself as a reflection of the audience,” Ms. Lawson said. “There’s no way you really try to have a place and culture and be relevant and don’t try to talk to a black audience.”

And the black audience for podcasts seems to be growing. According, forty percent of podcast listeners in the United States are not white Nielsen. This figure, Nielsen also points out, means that podcast listeners have a more diverse population than the country.

For Ms. Scott and Ms. Obel, knowing that audiences have everything to do with staying true to their original vision and respecting each other, as they do to their listeners.

“My aim right now is to speak among these black women like myself, like Sylvia, and work,” Ms. Scott said.

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